Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter? Is It Safe, Good or Bad?

can dogs eat peanut butter

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This content was reviewed and fact-checked by veterinarian Dr. Aukse Caraite, DVM.

Can dogs eat peanut butter? The answer is not that simple. Just because peanut butter is xylitol-free doesn’t mean it’s good for your dog. Even dog-friendly peanut butter contains ingredients linked to heart disease and obesity. There’s no doubt most dogs love this sticky snack. But is peanut butter good for dogs? This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about dogs and peanut butter, including the best peanut butter for dogs, how much they can eat, benefits, risks, and everything in between. Let’s get started!

Is Peanut Butter Good For Dogs?

Peanut butter can benefit dogs, provided it’s specifically formulated for canine consumption or is made from safe, non-toxic ingredients. However, this might not be the case with many commercial peanut butter brands that include added sugars, artificial additives, vegetable oils, and even trans fats.

Peanut Butter Ingredients Toxicity Analysis In Dogs

PeanutsSafe. Plain peanut butter is perfectly safe for dogs as long as you are (i) making homemade peanut butter by turning raw peanuts into a paste or (ii) if the peanut butter you are feeding your pup only has peanuts listed as the only ingredient.
Mono and diglyceridesCaution. Food manufacturers typically use monoglycerides and diglycerides (forms of fatty acids) to improve texture stability and extend a product’s shelf life. These fatty acids prevent the oil in peanut butter from separating. While a chronic dietary toxicity study of DAG (diacylglycerol) in Beagle dogs showed no effect on normal canine growth and development, it’s not an ideal ingredient to feed dogs and may lead to obesity and heart problems.[1] It’s best to limit the intake or avoid it as there is no way of knowing how much trans fats are in products with mono and diglycerides. Food products with mono- and diglycerides are likely high in other fats, refined sugar and flour.
SaltCaution. Sodium is an essential mineral in every dog’s balanced diet. Small amounts of salt aren’t harmful to your dog. Too much salt in dog food may lead to “salt poisoning,” which can cause dehydration, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
SugarCaution. Sugars are usually found in peanut butter in different forms, such as sucrose caramel, corn syrup molasses, and even a deadly sweetener known as xylitol. While sugars, except for xylitol, may not pose an immediate health threat to dogs, constant consumption can increase dogs’ risk of developing obesity, food allergies, and diabetes and even promote yeast, bacteria, and parasite growth the more your dog eats it. Bottom line: Any added sugar has no place in a healthy pet’s diet.
Hydrogenated vegetable oils (Trans Fats)Caution. Some commercial peanut butter brands add hydrogenated vegetable oils (or trans fats). Hydrogenation is the process that turns liquid unsaturated fat into trans fats. Trans fat is considered the worst type of fat your dog can eat. Trans fats also are known as trans-fatty acids. It raises your dog’s “bad” cholesterol and lowers his “good” cholesterol. John Bauer, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, says saturated fats (and possibly trans fats) may cause modest increases in blood cholesterol concentrations in dogs.[2]
Palm oil.Caution. While palm oil is not toxic to dogs, it can cause intestinal issues for some of our furry friends. Palm oil has also caused environmental controversy problems, so as animal lovers, we don’t support anything that harms other animals.[3] According to WebMD, palm oil contains fat that can increase cholesterol levels. Vets Now also reports that this oil has a laxative effect that can cause diarrhea, dehydration, and, in extreme cases, pancreatitis.

Is Peanut Butter Safe For Dogs?

After analyzing the most common components found in standard commercial peanut butter, the ideal peanut butter for dogs should contain only peanuts. However, a little salt or sugar may also be acceptable and safe. The healthiest option is unsalted (no sugar) homemade peanut butter.

Professionals such as Dr. Susan Wynn, a veterinary nutritionist and integrative medicine specialist with BluePearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists, agree with our research and say, “If you are going [to give peanut butter to your dog], it should only have peanuts, salt, and maybe sugar. Make sure it doesn’t have Xylitol.”

Unfortunately, not every dog parent has the time to make peanut butter at home. Dr. Wynn says the best alternative is to give peanut butter marketed explicitly for dogs. Wynn says those products are “generally okay because animal nutritionists formulate them.” Fortunately, plenty of dog-friendly peanut butter brands are safe and free from all those unwanted ingredients we mentioned before.

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?

Yes, dogs can eat peanut butter in moderation. Peanut butter can be a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins like Vitamin E, Biotin, Niacin, and Folic Acid, contributing to a dog’s healthy muscles, skin, and overall well-being. However, choosing a peanut butter free from xylitol, a toxic sweetener to dogs, and avoiding brands with added sugars, salt, or any of the ingredients listed above is essential. Given its high-calorie content, peanut butter should be given as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of a dog’s diet to prevent potential weight gain and related health issues. Always gradually introduce peanut butter to your dog’s diet to monitor for adverse reactions. Don’t be fooled by a label that says “natural” or “organic.” These healthier peanut butter alternative brands can also contain these undesired ingredients, so read the label.

NOTE: Always consult your vet before giving your dog new foods, especially human foods. Foods that are safe for some dogs may not be suitable for yours due to factors like age, health, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.

Can Dogs Eat Human Peanut Butter?

While most regular or “human” peanut butter brands are unsafe for dogs, few exceptions exist. Why dogs can’t eat human peanut butter depends on the ingredients. The human peanut butter you find at the grocery store will probably contain preservatives and extra sugar that aren’t great. Our tip is to find those exceptions entirely free of additives and other harmful ingredients for dogs. For instance, peanut butter made by Crazy Richard’s (or Teddie) lists just one ingredient, “peanuts,” and your dog should be able to enjoy this human peanut butter safely.

Why Dogs Should Avoid Peanut Butter With Xylitol

The one peanut butter ingredient your dog should avoid at all costs is Xylitol. Xylitol is a common sugar substitute in many items, including toothpaste, gum, and peanut butter. While Xylitol is safe for people, it can be deadly to dogs. Five known peanut butter manufacturers add xylitol to their products.

According to Korinn Saker, associate professor of nutrition at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Xylitol is toxic to dogs because, once consumed, it stimulates the pancreas to release insulin. The surge of insulin into the dog’s bloodstream causes hypoglycemia, a profound drop in blood sugar levels that, in turn, results in weakness, disorientation, tremors, and potential seizures.[4]

Severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening if untreated. When a dog consumes xylitol, insulin is rapidly released, which can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar. At higher doses, it can also cause acute liver failure.

Peanut Butter Brands That Contain Xylitol Your Dog Should Avoid

  • Go Nuts
  • Hank’s Protein Plus Peanut Butter
  • Krush Nutrition
  • Nuts ‘n More
  • P28

More may spring up, so always read the labels carefully. The letters “XYL” are synonymous with xylitol. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center recommends looking for the combination of the letters “XYZ” in any ingredient found in peanut butter or other foods you are considering feeding your dog.

According to the ASPCA, here is a list of a few xylitol-derived words you should avoid:

  • 1,4-anhydro-d-xylitol
  • Anhydroxylitol
  • Birch bark extract
  • Birch sugar
  • D-xylitol
  • Xylite
  • Xylitylglucoside
  • Zylatol

Health Benefits of Peanut Butter For Dogs

As tasty as peanut butter can be, they provide several important health benefits for dogs.

According to the USDA, 100 grams (or about 4 ounces) of peanut butter contains the following nutrients:

  • Protein: 22.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 22.3 g
  • Fiber: 4.8 g
  • Calcium: 49 mg
  • Magnesium: 169 mg
  • Phosphorus: 339 mg
  • Zinc: 2.54 mg
  • Niacin: 13 mg

Here are a few more reasons why peanut butter is good for dogs:

How to Safely Feed Peanut Butter to Dogs

When feeding peanut butter to your dog, it’s best to follow a few simple guidelines to help keep them safe:

  • Begin with a small amount to see how your dog reacts
  • Check ingredients
  • Xylitol-free
  • No artificial sweeteners or sugars (sucrose caramel, corn syrup molasses)
  • Free from mono and diglycerides
  • Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats)
  • Free from palm oil
  • Feed occasionally, not every day

Some of the ways you can safely feed peanut butter to your dog include:

  • Toy filler: Stuffing peanut butter inside a Kong or similar toy can entertain your dog for hours. It’s handy for alleviating boredom or separation anxiety.
  • Training aid: Peanut butter can be an effective, high-value reward during training sessions. Use small amounts to keep them motivated.
  • Pill disguise: If your dog is reluctant to take medication, hiding the pill in a small amount of peanut butter can make the process easier and stress-free.
  • Frozen Treats: Mix peanut butter with bananas or plain yogurt and freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray for a refreshing and healthy treat.
  • Spread on Toys: For dogs that need slow feeders or are fast eaters, spreading peanut butter on a lick mat or inside a slow feeder can slow them down and satisfy their taste buds.
  • Top dog treats with peanut butter: Old Mother Hubbard by Wellness.

How Much Peanut Butter Can Dogs Eat?

Treats should only constitute 10% of your dog’s diet, with the remaining 90% coming from well-balanced dog food. This guideline also applies to healthy treats like peanut butter.

Below, you’ll find general guidelines for safely portioning peanut butter based on your dog’s weight.

Dog SizePeanut Butter Serving
(Ocassioanly)
Breed Examples
Extra-small (2-15 lbs.)1/4 tspShih Tzu, Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Maltese
Small (16-25 lbs.)1/2 tspBoston Terriers, Beagles, Dachshund
Medium (26-60 lbs.)1 tspBulldogs, Basset Hounds, Border Collies
Large (61-90 lbs.)1 tbspGolden Retrievers, Pit Bulls, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers
Extra-large (91+ lbs.)1 1/2 tbspBullmastiffs, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Great Pyrenees

Is Peanut Butter Bad For Dogs?

An excess of peanut butter can result in pancreatitis and obesity in dogs. To prevent the adverse side effects of peanut butter, feed in moderation and choose peanut butter that avoids problematic ingredients. You should be aware of certain aspects of peanut butter.

Aflatoxins

Aflatoxins are one of the most carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances, and peanuts contain them. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring peanut substance that can never be reduced to “zero.” Healthline reports that processing peanuts into peanut butter reduces aflatoxin levels by 9%. However, aflatoxin does not form in peanut butter once packed in containers. Therefore, if the production process is safe, the final product will be safe when it reaches the consumer, as the National Peanut Board reported.[5]

So, should you worry about aflatoxins in your dog’s peanut butter? Yes and no. If you buy peanuts (or peanut butter) from reputable grocery stores or peanut growers, the risk of exposure to aflatoxin in American peanut products is very low. The FDA and the USDA monitor the amounts of aflatoxins in peanuts and ensure they don’t exceed recommended limits. However, you should be concerned and avoid buying peanut butter or peanuts from untrusted sources with minimal or non-existent government-enforced production and regulation to minimize aflatoxin risk in human and animal food. If you were thinking about using some peanuts you bought at a local flea market to make homemade peanut butter for your dog, think again. Research shows that aflatoxin causes liver cancer in laboratory animals and poses a risk for your dog.[6]

A study by the Consumers Union revealed that toxin levels of aflatoxin in peanut butter varied from brand to brand. Popular brands like Peter Pan, Jif, and Skippy had the lowest levels, while the highest levels were found in the peanut butter that is ground fresh in health food stores. These findings may seem contradictory, but this may be because “natural” or “organic” peanut butter is less processed than traditional commercial peanut butter.

Glyphosate

It’s common practice for peanut farmers to spray GMO crops with Roundup and other herbicides to prevent weeds. The problem is most of these herbicides have glyphosate as an active ingredient Glyphosate is dangerous for you, your dog, and other pets According to the National Pesticide Information Center, animals exposed to formulated glyphosate herbicides have displayed anorexia, lethargy, hypersalivation, vomiting, and diarrhea Symptoms persisted for 2 to 24 hours following exposure A recent study found that exposure can increase cancer risk by 41% The World Health Organization recognizes glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, and this chemical is banned in some countries.[7]

Should I worry about Glyphosate contamination in my dog’s peanut butter? Our research found that popular brands use peanuts contaminated with glyphosate, e. Here is a certificate of analysis on Skippy Natural Peanut Butter with Honey issued by the Health Research Institute. They found that Skippy Natural Peanut Butter with Honey contained 11.71 ng/g of glyphosa e. This is another reason peanut butter can be bad for dogs.[8]

Unbalanced omegas

Peanuts have an unbalanced ratio of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3. Some studies suggest that this may increase inflammation and the risk of chronic disease.[9]  

Possible Side Effects & Risks of Peanut Butter In Dogs

The following symptoms may indicate a bad reaction to peanut butter.

  • Discomfort and bloating
  • Gas
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

What Should I Do If My Dog Reacted Badly to Peanut Butter?

If your dog reacts badly to a food generally considered safe, like peanut butter, you should stop feeding it and remove its access. Ensure it has access to fresh water to maintain hydration. It’s important to call your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or if you’re concerned about its condition.

Can’t reach your vet? Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661 or chat live with a veterinary professional via our online vet chat or video chat support (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Dogs showing worsening symptoms, such as blood in their vomit or stool, difficulty breathing, weakness, or collapse, should be taken to the veterinarian immediately.

Are Dogs Allergic to Peanut Butter?

While not common, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to peanuts. Symptoms can include itching, swelling, hives, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a medical emergency.

If you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction to any food, including peanut butter, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian. Your vet can provide appropriate advice and help you formulate a safe diet plan for your dog. We also recommend conducting an at-home dog allergy test to determine if your dog is sensitive or intolerant to certain foods.

Can Puppies Eat Peanut Butter?

Yes, puppies can safely eat peanut butter—ensure it’s the right kind and in moderation. Dr. Melanie, BVSC MS, says it should not contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Also, to prevent obesity, treats should make up no more than 10% of the total daily calories.

At What Age Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?

Introduce any treat (peanut butter) during the last weeks of the weaning process in puppies, which is completed by about seven to eight weeks of age. Veterinarian David Elbeze, DVM, MRCVS, recommends starting with treats at two months of age (eight weeks old).

Dogs That Shouldn’t Eat Peanut Butter

There are several reasons why some dogs should abstain from eating peanut butter. Dogs with or prone to pancreatitis should avoid peanut butter altogether, as high-fat foods like peanut butter can trigger it. Pancreatitis is more common in certain breeds, such as cavalier King Charles spaniels, Collies, miniature schnauzers, and Yorkshire terriers. If you own any of these breeds, speaking with your veterinarian before giving them peanut butter is essential. Additionally, if your dog is taking any medication, it’s advisable to call your vet to see if it’s prudent to feed them peanut butter. Some health conditions may require your dog to avoid certain foods, and peanut butter can be one of them. Owners of dogs diagnosed with diabetes should also be mindful of the effects of peanut butter on diabetic dogs.

Dog Eating Peanut Butter Video

Watch these dogs eating peanut butter! The joy on their faces is priceless, lol!

Other Alternatives to Peanut Butter For Dogs

Apart from peanut butter, a wide variety of treats are available that provide the same or even better benefits for your dog than peanut butter.

  • Plain, cooked pumpkin
  • Plain yogurt
  • Cooked eggs
  • Sliced apples (without seeds)
  • Bananas (in moderation)
  • Blueberries

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to other frequently asked questions about dogs and peanut butter.

There is no xylitol in any JIF peanut butter product. However, upon reviewing other ingredients in JIF peanut butter, we found that it contains all those unwanted ingredients (sugars from molasses, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and mono-diglycerides) that your dog should avoid. Under these circumstances, we consider it not safe for your pup.

We didn’t find xylitol in Skippy peanut butter. However, we found a report by the Health Research Institute that stated this peanut butter brand was contaminated with a herbicide known as glyphosate. This herbicide can cause anorexia, lethargy, hypersalivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and cancer. We don’t recommend giving this peanut butter to your dog.

Natural peanut butter is safe for dogs if the only ingredients are peanuts. A little bit of salt is also acceptable.

Yes, dogs can start eating peanut butter when they are eight weeks of age.

Your puppy is too young to eat peanut butter at six weeks of age. It would be best to wait a few weeks before you start feeding him peanut butter. Puppies can start eating peanut butter when they end the weaning stage, which ends around eight weeks of life.

According to Daniel Fonza, DVM, an Arizona-based veterinarian, you can give your Chihuahua peanut butter. He recommends only using a small amount at a time. Too much may lead to GI upset and cause vomiting or diarrhea. A small amount, such as a teaspoon once daily, should be acceptable until your Chihuahua grows.

Yes, if you use dog-friendly peanut butter and other safe ingredients to make the cookies, it is safe for your dog to eat peanut butter cookies.

While peanut butter is okay, jelly or jams are inappropriate for a dog’s diet. Why? Jam, jelly, and preserves contain a lot of sugar. Jelly jams contain about 65% sugar; in other words, each tablespoon contains about two teaspoons of sugar. If you’re already giving your dog peanut butter, adding extra sugar will increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.

If you make the pretzels yourself with dog-friendly peanut butter, one or two occasionally might be okay. Store-bought peanut butter pretzels have too many additives, sodium, and other harmful ingredients. Just stick to regular peanut butter.

Can dogs eat chunky peanut butter? As for creamy or crunchy? That’s entirely your choice. There isn’t much difference, and the nuts are small enough not to pose a choking hazard for your dog. Smooth peanut butter is more versatile and easier to spread over almost anything.

Yes, they can. Pay attention to the ingredients. Some peanut butter brands advertise as natural/organic but have more than peanuts and salt. Double-check your ingredients and avoid those natural peanut butter brands with potentially toxic dog ingredients.

No. Reeses’s cups contain too much sugar, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR, emulsifier, peanuts, dextrose, salt, among other harmful ingredients dogs. Never give your dog Reese’s.

You can give peanut butter crackers to your canine friend if they do not contain added sugar, sodium, fats, and other non-dog-friendly ingredients. Homemade peanut butter crackers would be ideal. Only feed once in a while.

The Bottom Line

Can dogs eat peanut butter safely? Yes, peanut butter is safe for dogs as long as you pick the correct type of peanut butter that doesn’t have all the harmful ingredients that may cause harm to your pet. We put a lot of effort and time into researching peanut butter and dogs because, as dog parents, we know how important keeping our dogs safe is. A new kind of peanut butter in the market that uses CBD oil for dogs is worth looking into. CBD-infused dog peanut butter has remarkable health benefits.


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Sources

Canine Bible uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process and product review methodology to learn more about how we fact-check, test products, and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. DAG Toxicity Study, Vets Now
  2. PetMD
  3. SOS
  4. NC State Veterinary Medicine
  5. National Peanut Board
  6. National Pesticide Information
  7. Science Direct: Glyphosate
  8. Health Research Institute
  9. PubMed
Editorial Team at Canine Bible

Canine Bible authorship represents the unified voice of our entire editorial team and our in-house veterinarians rather than a single author. Each article, blog post, and review published under the Canine Bible name undergoes a rigorous review process, involving all team members to guarantee accuracy and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research. This collaborative effort is an integral part of our editorial process and aligns with our four pillars of content creation. This approach ensures our content is backed by expert knowledge and factual information, offering our readers reliable, actionable, and trustworthy content.

DVM Surgeon Veterinarian  at Canine Bible

Dr. Aukse is our in-house Lead Senior Veterinarian. Dr. Aukse is a dedicated and skilled DVM Surgeon renowned for her expertise in small/companion animal surgery and medicine. With a robust academic background and extensive hands-on experience, she ensures her patients receive the highest standard of care. Dr. Aukse is happy to share her knowledge and expertise with our readers.

Dr. Caraite's career experience as a DVM Veterinary Surgeon spans over seven years, marked by comprehensive learning from esteemed institutions and substantial experience in veterinary clinics. She is currently employed at a family-run, day-opening clinic in central Gothenburg, Sweden, where she performs surgery daily and manages a large patient base for both surgical and outpatient care. Her externship at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, with a focus on soft tissue and oncology service, has further honed her skills, equipping her with the essential knowledge and proficiency to excel in her field.

Dr. Aukse holds a Master’s in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (2017) and has completed an externship in Soft Tissue and Oncology Service at NC State (2018-2023). She is also has a Master’s in Small Animal Surgery with a specialization in Dog and Cat Surgery from the University of Copenhagen.

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